USAFP News

Top Fire Sprinkler Myths - Part One

USAFP News
August 23, 2012 - At United States Alliance Fire Protection (USAFP), we know a thing or two about fire sprinkler systems. That's why we decided to put together a list of our top 10 fire sprinkler myths - and debunk them, one by one.

MYTH 1

A smoke alarm is all the fire protection your home needs.

FACT
If your shirt was on fire, would you rather I tell you about it or put it out?

Smoke alarms alert occupants to the presence of danger, but residents can't rely on smoke alarms alone to keep them safe from fires. Home fire sprinkler systems respond quickly to reduce heat, flames and smoke from a fire, giving residents valuable time to exit safely. Working smoke alarms reduce the risk of dying by 50 percent if a home fire occurs, while sprinklers decrease your risk of dying by about 80 percent.
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MYTH 2
Newer homes are safer; fires and fire-related deaths are limited to older homes.

FACT
As they say, "Age is nothing but a number," and a home's age is a poor predictor of fire and fire-related death rates. Statistically, the only fire-safety issue that is relevant to a home's age is outdated electrical wiring. Beyond that, home age has little to do with fire safety. A fire at 2 a.m. is just as deadly in a new home as it is in an old home. In fact, many new construction methods negatively affect occupant and firefighter life safety if there's a fire. New homes tend to have open floor plans, which create a better fuel load for a fire. Composite wood joists, which are used frequently in new construction, burn faster, hotter, and fail sooner than saw cut lumber.
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MYTH 3
Home fire sprinklers are expensive and make housing unaffordable, especially for first-time buyers.

FACT
That could be true … if these first-time buyers are planning on installing a 14-carat gold, diamond-studded sprinkler system in a 10,000-square-foot mansion.

For folks buying within their budgets, home fire sprinklers are an affordable piece of the puzzle. The Fire Protection Research Foundation recently issued the Home Fire Sprinkler Cost Assessment report, which shows the national average of the cost of installing home fire sprinklers is $1.61 per square foot for new construction. To put this in perspective, many people pay similar amounts for carpet upgrades, a paving-stone driveway or a whirlpool bath. Sales in many U.S. communities where sprinkler systems are available show that not only are consumers requesting this feature, but also that houses with sprinkler systems are selling faster than those without. Also, most insurance companies give a reduction in home owners insurance rates with a sprinkler system.
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MYTH 4
We don't need government sprinkler mandates; owners can install them in their homes voluntarily.

FACT
Just because it's good for people doesn't mean they'll do it. Mandating sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes makes communities safer overall.

Beyond the life-safety benefits of home sprinklers, there are other incentives for jurisdictions to mandate sprinklers in new homes. By mandating home sprinklers, cities and towns can reduce the strain on fire-safety personnel, limit damage to property and help conserve municipal water resources by reducing the amount of water needed to fight fires.
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MYTH 5
Home fire sprinklers often leak or activate accidentally.

FACT
It's 2012, give modern technology some credit. Reliable companies use high-end software to design and route fire sprinkler systems in buildings, and the folks who implement the systems are no slouches, either. We know how to install a sprinkler system that won't malfunction.

Home fire sprinkler systems are much like home plumbing systems - when installed and maintained properly, the risk of leaks is low. Each sprinkler is designed and calibrated to activate only when it senses a significant heat change, directing water to the area of the fire. During the last 50 years, records indicate the likelihood of leaks from automatic sprinkler systems is very minimal. Statistics show that only 1 in 16 million sprinkler heads accidentally activate due to manufacturers defects.
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There's more where that came from. See the rest of the list in USAFP's December newsletter. Please contact us today about all our fire protection services.

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